I never go car camping without these 3 items-cooler, camp stove, and cast iron skillet. You need an extreme cooler or refridgerator to store your perishable food in. A high quality camping stove to cook your food. And a cast iron pan to cook make tasty meals in.
3 Things You Totally Need When You Go Car Camping
Let’s start with the Coleman 70-Quart Xtreme 5 day cooler found at Amazon.
For less than $80, you get a cooler that keeps food cold for days. I pack my 70 Quart Xtreme cooler with 2 blocks of ice and load it with 3 days worth of food. The ice lasts a long time. Varies with ambient temperature. Walmart usually blows these coolers out for under $50 on sale. Amazon follows suit in cyber price wars.
We use 2 coolers to limit trips in and out of the coolers. The large cooler is for meat, eggs, and cheese. The smaller cooler is for drinks, fruits, veggies, and snacks that are consumed all day. Often we are camping in such remote areas that we have no access to food or ice for 5 days. The 2 cooler options seems to work best.
There are other coolers on the market that probably work as good as the Coleman such as Igloo that are sold by Target, Walmart, & Big 5. I have stuck with the Colman brand because in my experience, nearly all of their products are top notch!
What about the other super heavy duty xtreme coolers like the Yeti? I have never used them Some are supposed to be bear resistant. They are heavy, more expensive, and keep food colder no longer than an inexpensive Coleman Xtreme.
Cast Iron Frying Pan
A round Lodge cast iron griddle is our secret weapon when it comes to making killer camping meals.
We make the best omelets, burgers, fish, corn tortillas, pancakes, and lamb chops on the griddle. My wife argued with me for a couple years begging me to let her take it. It looked so old and beat up and was heavy. After making me the most incredible omelet at home on it, I requested her to bring it on every camping trip.
Cast iron is non-stick when properly seasoned. Clean up takes about 30 seconds. We use a Chain Mail Cast Iron Pan Scrubber or sand to clean our griddle.
Two Burner Coleman Dual Fuel Camping Stove
We started camping with a $5 garage sale Coleman green 2 burner camping stove. Having 2 burners is a must for most campers. Often times 3 burners is ideal. Just not worth the extra size or weight. This stove burns white gas, unleaded gas. I learned a neat little trick by adding a Stansport propane converter making a 3 fuel stove!
Most campers that I run into use a 2 burner Coleman propane stove. Propane lights up immediately.
Most grocery stores near camping areas sell green propane fuel cylinders. Walmart never seems to run out of propane. Some people buy a quick connect hose and connect directly to 5 pound refillable propane canisters. This is the way to go if you have the space.
There are many other items such a our Berkey gravity fed water filter, MSR Dromedary 10 liter water bag, Dorcy LED flashlights that I always take with on camping trips. However, these 3 items are favorite because we used them everyday in preparing delicious meals.